Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Innovation in spectroscopy could improve greenhouse gas detection

16.05.2013
Detecting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could soon become far easier with the help of an innovative technique* developed by a team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where scientists have overcome an issue preventing the effective use of lasers to rapidly scan samples.

The team, which recently published its findings in the journal Nature Photonics, says the technique also could work for other jobs that require gas detection, including the search for hidden explosives and monitoring chemical processes in industry and the environment.


Fast, accurate spectroscopy scans of the atmosphere across a wide range of light frequencies could improve the performance of greenhouse gas measurement devices. This artist's conception compares current technology, which functions slowly and unevenly, with the NIST team's improvement, which changes the scanning laser's frequency evenly and more than 1,000 times faster, permitting full-spectrum scans within a few milliseconds.

Credit: Talbott, Gerskovic/NIST

Searching for faint whiffs of an unusual gas mixed in the air is called "trace gas sensing." By far, the most common method is spectroscopy—identifying gas molecules by the unique set of frequencies of light that each absorbs. The telltale pattern of dark lines in a spectrum indicates which gases are present in the mix. Accurately measuring the concentrations of relatively low-concentration gases, however, requires a lot of light, generated by a laser that can be tuned to different colors. Until now, tuning a laser to shine in a wide enough range of colors typically has required a mechanical device to change the frequency, but all the available methods adjust the laser too slowly to obtain meaningful snapshots of the turbulent atmosphere.

"One of the major goals in climate science is to combine a wide variety of high-accuracy atmospheric measurements, including ground-based, aircraft and satellite missions, in order to fully understand the carbon cycle," says the research team's David Long, a scientist in NIST's Chemical Sciences Division. "The technology we've developed is general enough to be applicable for each of these platforms. The high speed of the technique allows for very accurate measurements of atmospheric gases at rates which are faster than atmospheric changes in temperature and pressure due to turbulence."

The team found a solution using electronics that permit fast and discrete changes in frequency. The components—called an electro-optic modulator and an optical resonator—work together to alter the laser so that its light shines in a number of different frequencies, and then to filter these frequencies so that the laser only shines in one color at any given instant. The new method allows a wide range of different frequencies to pass through a gas sample in a few milliseconds or less, with the added benefit of providing a clearer and more accurate resulting spectrum than the previous "slow scan" methods could.

Long says that the Nature Photonics paper details the use of the technique in a controlled laboratory environment using a small sample chamber for ground-based measurements, but that the team has submitted other papers with data indicating the technique also could work at great distances—potentially allowing a scanner to be mounted on a vehicle, an aircraft or a satellite. The team also has applied for a patent on its work, he says.

*G.-W. Truong, K.O. Douglass, S.E. Maxwell, R.D. van Zee, D.F. Plusquellic, J.T. Hodges and D.A. Long. Frequency-agile, rapid scanning spectroscopy. Nature Photonics, DOI: 10.1038/NPHOTON.2013.98, April 28, 2013.

Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments
22.01.2018 | Duke University

nachricht World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>